By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
On Tuesday, I shared a post packed with examples of “big-time” advocacy efforts that people can take to create social changes to end intimate partner violence and the stigma surrounding it. These larger-scale advocacy efforts are so important for taking on the major social forces that fan the flames of abuse in our culture and communities.
But smaller-scale advocacy efforts are just as valuable, and even though they may be viewed as “smaller” than more major advocacy efforts, they can deliver huge impacts and are an important part of the overall picture of the types of advocacy needed to really end abuse.
One of the simplest things that anyone can do to advocate for survivors is simply to listen to their stories when they come to you. Several of the participants in our research mentioned this as a way they view themselves as advocates. For example, one participant said, “I will be there when someone needs me.” Another said, “I simply try to be there for friends/acquaintances who are in abusive relationships.” Given what we know about how isolated survivors can become through the abuse, just think how powerful being there and listening can be.
Beyond listening to survivors’ stories, survivors especially can advocate for others by sharing their own experiences in one-on-one conversations to help other survivors know that they aren’t alone. A number of survivors in our research studies viewed this role as a form of advocacy, including the following:
In my post on “big-time” advocacy, I shared how some people advocate by starting social media campaigns or running Facebook pages. However, social media offers people opportunities for raising awareness about intimate partner violence through less-intensive actions, too. For example, a research participant said, “I share posts, articles, etc on facebook and twitter and pinterest.”
Our theme for the series this month is “Everyday Advocacy.” We want to emphasize the everyday. Some people will truly feel called and motivated to take on large-scale advocacy efforts, and these efforts are sorely needed. But even those advocacy actions that may seem “small” can have a huge impact!
You may provide a listening ear to someone who is experiencing abuse, which could help start the process for them to leave the relationship and change the course of their lives forever. You could share your own experiences with abusive or unhealthy relationships--or overcoming any challenge you’ve faced in your life--and let someone know they’re not alone, and that there is hope. You could share a piece of information with someone in your social media network that helps them recognize an abusive relationship in their own and start to take action to get safe. Small actions can have big results!
I invite you to take some time today to think about one small thing you could do in the next 24 hours to do some form of advocacy toward ending intimate partner violence. You never know what kind of difference you could make!